- Attractive design
- Better audio quality than Amazon Echo Dot
- Works with most smart home devices and music streaming services
- Google Assistant works quickly and accurately
- Shopping feature with Walmart is still nascent
- Audio quality falls apart at high volumes
- Cannot pair directly with other speakers (requires Chromecast Audio)
For $50 this is a heck of a smart speaker. This is a serious competitor with the Echo Dot.
The Google Home Mini is quite literally a mini version of the standard Google Home. It’s really competing directly with the Amazon Echo Dot, but with more of a focus on design and audio quality. At $50, it’s priced affordably and has a lot to offer.
The Google Home Mini has a very elegant build. It’s about the same size as a donut and is wrapped in a mesh material. It has four hidden LEDs that indicate volume level, etc. You can tap the left side to turn the volume down and the right side to turn the volume up. It also has a MicroUSB port on the back. You do have to keep the speaker plugged in and connected to your Wi-Fi network in order for it to work.
SEE ALSO: Google Home Mini vs Echo Dot
Music Streaming & Audio Quality
The Google Home Mini works with Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Pandora. By default it plays music via Google Play Music, however, you can connect any of your accounts and designate it play music from that particular source. For example, you can say “Ok Google, play country music on Spotify” and Google will switch over to Spotify, assuming you’ve logged into your account.
One major advantage the Google Home Mini has over the Echo Dot is that it sounds better. In fact, if you’re in a smaller room, you can use the GHM as your speaker. It doesn’t sound great, but is clear enough for most people and it does push out 360 degrees of sound, as opposed to just front facing speakers. It falls apart at the high volumes, but still is pretty nice.
If you’d like to pair it with external speakers, however, you will need a Chromecast Audio connected to those speakers. It’s not quite as seamless as pairing via Bluetooth or an AUX port, but at least you have the option to beef up the sound if you want to.
UPDATE 3/29 – Google Home Mini now pairs with Bluetooth speakers per Google’s Blog.
One last thing regarding audio, the GHM can be used as your Bluetooth speaker. You can actually play music from your phone and have it emitted from the GHM, which is pretty neat.
Here’s Google’s official video for the GHM.
The Google Home Mini has several microphones and can hear you from a good distance away. But what can you ask Google to do? Here’s a list:
– Play music or radio.
– Turn on/off/dim smart lights.
– Adjust smart thermostats and locks.
– Tell you about the weather, news, sports, finance, and traffic.
– Play media from YouTube and Netflix.
– Tell you what’s on your calendar.
– Create timers, etc.
– Make phone calls using number from your contact list.
– Translate speech into different languages.
This is not an exhaustive list, but that’s the bare bones of what you’ll do with the GHM. While it doesn’t technically work with as many smart devices as the Echo Dot, it does work with just as many categories of smart devices. For example, there are hundreds of smart lights that work with Alexa, but Google will still work with the prominent brads such as Philips Hue.
We’ve also found Google Assistant to work reliably and accurately when you ask something of it. But when you want it to not listen, it does have a mute switch that you can toggle.
The biggest shortcoming with the GHM and Google Home is the shopping experience. On Amazon’s Echo devices you can shop for anything on Amazon, basically. Google does have a partnership with Walmart, but it’s still a very new offering and lags behind Amazon in many ways. Walmart says that you can shop for over 2 million items via Google Home, but we’ve found the entire experience with Amazon to be easier overall.
Final Thoughts on the Google Home Mini
We like it a lot. The design is very elegant. The music quality is passable, especially when compared to the Amazon Echo Dot. The price point at $50 is reasonable. And Google Assistant works as you’d expect. Sure, Google is still behind Amazon in terms of the number of devices and services that it supports, but Google still covers all of the basics. This is not a must-have product, but if you don’t already have a smart speaker, we think it’s seriously worth considering.
SEE ALSO: Ecobee4 vs Nest Thermostat Comparison